D&D Encounters: Murder in Baldur’s Gate (Week 9)

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on October 17, 2013

murder-in-baldurs-gate-coverWhen last we saw our heroes they rescued a teenager from some kidnappers and bore witness to a massacre as hundreds of protestors were shot at by guards resulting in chaos and almost 200 deaths. The PCs helped with the aftermath, healing the wounded, but were angry and frustrated that they were unable to do more than watch as the terrible events unfolded before their eyes. They swore they’d do whatever it takes to ensure this kind of atrocity doesn’t happen again.

We actually ran this session last week at Harry Tarantula North in Toronto as part of a double session because many players were going to absent this week. I think that made a big difference to how things played out as the massacre from week 8 was still fresh in everyone’s mind and emotions were still running high.

None of the players left or changed tables between encounters so my party of six remained unchanged with the following PCs: Half-Elf Paladin (Carl McClure, candidate for Duke), Dwarf Fighter, Human Cleric, Elf Wizard, Human Monk, and Warforged Fighter.

The Riot

Although the adventure says that a few days pass between the massacre and the start of the riots, I decided that it made more sense to have the riots happen only hours after the events at the gate.

The PCs were still in Lower City helping the wounded and trying to understand what happened. They told Ravengard that they’d witnessed Skoond on the wall arguing with a bowman only minutes before he opened fire at the crowd. The archer was killed so he couldn’t answer questions. Skoond was nowhere to be found.

As the PCs patrolled the streets cleaning up and helping people they realized that the citizens of Baldur’s Gate were fed up. The tensions that had been growing were near a boiling point and the massacre at the gate was the catalyst needed to get the pot boiling over.

It didn’t take long for the people to take to the streets and retaliate for the needless death of their comrades. The PC heard the growing rabble of hundreds of people heading towards them. It seemed that the entire Lower City was up in arms. People were mad and taking it out on the city and each other. A full on riot was in progress; growing as each minute passed.

The riot wasn’t isolated to any one area or district. It was like a wildfire jumping from treetop to treetop, spreading in all directions without rhyme or reason. The PCs were in the heart of the city and realized that they would be hard pressed to get out without encountering rioters.

Learning from the massacre they witnessed during the previous session, the PCs as a party felt that the best way to calm the masses was to unite them under strong leadership. Since Carl the Paladin was already a well known and well respected figure in Baldur’s Gate they decided to try and rally everyone behind him.

Since the rioters were not upon the PCs yet, they decided to try and round up supporters before encountering the mob. Regular folks were scared and hiding, they weren’t interested in helping. However, the PCs found a few other patrols of Flaming Fist soldiers still in Lower City. With a little bit of convincing they rounded up 12 Fists to help them. Now 20 strong they decided to march slowly and carefully into the fringes of the riot.

Carl and his followers (all Flaming Fist soldiers) to move through the crowd taking no hostile actions and speaking to them calmly and diplomatically. When they reached a large open crossroads the party hoisted Carl up to roof of a nearby second story building. From that vantage point he was ready to address the crowd.

The Wizard and Cleric used their magic to create an impressive fireworks display. This got everyone’s attention and the crown calmed down momentarily. Carl addressed them while the other PCs whispered helpful suggestions behind him.

The speech was powerful. It spoke of peace and friendship. It spoke of brotherhood and a community in which people helped one another. He acknowledged their frustration and outrage at recent events but insisted that this was not the way to implement meaningful, lasting changes. He pled for an end to the violence and asked for the people to help him stop the riots. Together they could lead by example. He called for all good citizens to work together, with the heroes and with each other, to wade into the riots and stoop the violence.

A few stellar Charisma rolls later from Carl and the party and the crowd was enthralled. They were looking for a charismatic leader and they found it in Carl. They stopped fighting and agreed to help. With the PCs leading the way the Fist soldiers and over a hundred former rioters walked deeper into the riot.

When the PCs reached another area of trouble and violence they made another impassioned speech. Again Carl convinced the people to stop rioting and help him calm the masses. The great rolls continued and another band of over a hundred people stopped fighting and started helping.

The PCs continued to do this at strategically significant spots in the city and each time the checks got easier. As more of the regular citizens fell behind Carl his words carried even more weight. After an hour or two Carl and those who heard his message had quelled the riots in the streets of Baldur’s Gate.

Thoughts

This week’s session is by far the simplest and shortest. The only real direction for DMs is “There’s a riot. Have PCs deal with it.” This provided the DM with a tremendous amount of creative freedom. It also meant that the session would be as long or as short as the players wanted it to be. After all they could, at any time, decide to sit back and let events play out around them.

Having just witnessed the massacre at the gate, my players were eager to make a difference once they realized something was brewing. However, the session still only took about 30 minutes of real time. Not a problem when smushed together with a two hour session, but it could have been if they’d played this session as it was intended.

Fortunately none of my players decided to use the riots as an excuse to fight, despite their yearning for more combat. I think most groups likely realized that their best chance of calming down the locals was through diplomacy, or possibly through bribery. It seemed odd to me that the PCs could have a direct impact on the events this week (the riot) but not so much last week (the massacre). As I mentioned last week the idea of scene in which protestors were attacked and then regular people taking to the streets to vent their frustrations was a little bit too close to some recent events for some of the players.

Based on the party’s considerable success this week Carl the Paladin has become even more well know and his celebrity is unmatched by any other citizen. I think his rise to Duke is all but cemented at this point. But I’m sure some power players behind the scenes are not happy at how things are unraveling so that could still cause trouble for the party.

How did your table handle the riots? Did they get involved or just avoid danger? Did they take on a clandestine mission using the riot as cover? If they stopped (or tried to stop) the riot, what tactics did they use and were they successful?

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 joe October 17, 2013 at 10:27 am

We’re still running the altered, 4e-centric version I did at Modern Myths in Northampton, MA. This week we also had a riot, but the focus was a little different. I had a table of 4 this week: a skald bard, a warlord, a slayer fighter, & a PHB defender fighter.

A couple sessions ago, I had written in a visit from the barker of a traveling circus (“The Knight Circus”, homophonic reference to a YA book title). This week, the circus showed up, with a parade through the city to lead folks to the tents just outside the city. With everyone so tense and the current of generally murderous energy, the whole town needed some release, and the circus seemed like a great idea. Unfortunately, that many people crammed together, all trying to see and experience the fun… well, let’s just say it lead to riots.

We had themed events for the riots, though, so I was able to compartmentalize them a bit better.
– general fistfights were broken up individually with Athletics or Intimidate checks, though the folks that used Athletics had to then make saving throws to NOT accidentally murder the fighting civilians (what with the murder energy in the town).
– a fire elemental (which had been jumping between firebreathers in the parade) went wild, and had to be lead towards a water tower, where the party was able to tip the basin and extinguish it.
– the parade of elephants got spooked (by the fire), and started stampeding. The party had to rescue the obligatory kid in danger, and then did some Nature climb&ride checks to keep the elephants away from people and calm them down.
– finally, some cages with wild animals got knocked over & opened, so the party had a combat with tigers, great apes, and some spooked horses. Fortunately, they were able to make use of the Intimidating-a-bloodied-foe tactic on these animals, who still had some ingrained servility from being raised in a circus environment, so they didn’t have to kill all these critters.

When it was done, the city was still rioting, but it was more of a quiet riot (many groans when I mentioned that band). The party enjoyed the variety of events and their relative freedom in figuring out how to deal with them, and the combat was challenging without being too hard (it is the first of 4 before their next rest at the season’s end).

2 bisonic October 17, 2013 at 12:00 pm

My table has settled down to the same four players for next. They are an elf druid, elf ranger, elf rogue, and a half-orc fighter. This week began with them speaking to Ravengard after disrupting an evil ritual focused on him. He thanked them and they consulted a Wizard and asked decent questions about the ritual and the mansion where it was taking place. They were told that the influence may be too subtle to detect and that it would not be easy to pinpoint the locations or targets of other ceremonies.

Ravengard told them that a fog had been lifted from his mind and that he was unhappy with how the Fist had been acting and that he will make sure that it would not continue. He told them that he was investigating a series of arsons as well as some kidnappings to which they replied, “Good luck with that.” They discussed among themselves what their goals were for a bit and Ravengard told them to speak to the Mistress of the Underways who had been looking for people to help her get the sewers working again. They debated doing nothing and eventually went to her office to see her anyhow, figuring that the sewers were probably haunted or the workers were being enchanted or full of monsters.

She was berating an employee, who was also her grand nephew, that he should tell the workers that rats live in the sewers and they should get over it. The elf rogue talked to the man to see his side while the rest of the group talked to her. They all got the same information about workers claiming that rats had made it impossible to do their jobs. The mistress also told them she would pay them to safely escort an engineer down to fix a pump that the workers were refusing to fix because of dangerous rats. The group then left to talk to some workers at a local bar, except for the ranger who went looking for some kind of breathing apperatus and wading boots. It now strikes me that I should have had a craazy gnome in an army surplus store selling dangerous new inventions like a diving suit or the Apparatus of Kwoloosh for them to ‘test’.

They approacked the Smoking Devil, a bar frequented by sanitation workers who were spending coin and gambling with more enthusiasm than they should have been. They complained about the rats and meant it but were still taking their time doing anything about it. One worker even told the group that he had watched six rats break a pump and then haul away a thirty pound gear by rolling it down the path. They then met with the engineer and had him procure a replacement part before heading into the sewers. The sewers were gross and they spotted rats but avoided them and walked cautiously towards the pump. The rats encircled them and started attacking. The group soon figured out that some of the rats were not normal. When one rat died and turned into a halfling they suspected that someone had cursed the halflings to live as rats. The druid figured out that they were wererats and that none of the group had been infected with lycanthropy. They got the engineer to the pump and he had them assist him in repairing it. The druid nearly lost her arm on a botched dex check but the fighter held the gears in place and the rogue freed her. The group found a magic dagger and some dragon leather on the halflings. They reported in to the mistress and Ravengard who said he was prepared for lycanthropes and that he is not suprised the Guild would collide with them. He told them that he had heard rumors that the outercity was going to march on the high hall in the morning and they did not seem to care too much.

The next day they went to the march and stood to the side as things went south. They knew something was odd when the patriars started it. They did not investigate anything but heard that nearly 200 people had died. The ranger kept saying how the whole thing was too far above their pay grade.

My group was coming apart but seems to have stabilized. I am handling the group better and giving them more of what they want. They seemed to enjoy this week. They also absolutely refuse to care about the political situation and are not seeking to get involved. They will watch it happen but do not want to play any part in it. My other problem is that the group never rolls for anything until I tell them to. They never use skills I don’t remind them of. Lastly, I am used to speaking in character while they might say “I ask whats wrong with him, but in a friendly way.” It was better this week than it has been. The farther I get from the written adventure, the happier my players are.

3 dwarf74 October 17, 2013 at 2:33 pm

I am running this for my home group rather than at Encounters, and I too am ready for it to be over. While intrigue is a nice change of pace for a while, I much prefer a game centered on exploration, treasure-hunting, and face-bashing. So do my players, honestly, so I’ve put this on the fast track.

My group has been helping Duke Silvershield for quite a while on account of their party makeup and his very generous pay. That came to a head this week… We’re right around where you are – maybe a little behind – and I’m trying to work in some of the extra events from the supplementary packet.

This week, I went off-script because my group was aching for a fight. The Duke himself came to the party’s Inn, the Helm and Cloak, and told them that he’d located the home of Astele Keene, identified by Norold Dlusker as the head of the Guild after questioning. He sent several Watch soldiers with them. Their plan – having already grown disenchanted with Duke Silvershield – was to turn on the Watch after arriving.

Ninefingers escaped through an exit tunnel with two bodyguards, leaving the other two to fight the four (newly 3rd level) PCs. The PCs tried to parley, but having arrived with a Watch squad, the bodyguards had no interest in listening. I used the stat blocks I had for Imbralyn Skoond and Rilsa Rael, and it was (finally!) an actually challenging fight. It’s sad that a challenging fight needs to include a spellcaster, but that’s how this edition seems to be going, I’m afraid. The wizard got killed, the rogue got knocked out and arrested.

That bit put behind us, I kind of breezed through most everything except the Massacre. Since the party was already in the Outer City, they joined the crowd of protesters who were more or less echoing everything the players had been saying to each other for weeks – the guild, the nobles, and the fist are all ruining everyone’s lives. So they joined in.

They were too slow to stop the massacre, and it kind of horrified my players. I don’t think they minded being unable to meaningfully oppose the events playing out (though it was a stark contrast to our 19th level 4e game), but the sheer scope and horror of the event sobered them up. They confronted the Duke (who of course blamed the Guild and Outer City for the deaths) and left his service in disgust to go see if the Guild would have them.

They wandered straight into a deathtrap in the Calim Jewel Emporium and – to my surprise – surrendered and offered their service. The Guild had them lay low for a few days (so we’re skipping the Riot) and now wants them to do some dangerous stuff for them in repayment. Ninefingers left the city for a while, leaving Rael in charge.

Next week? We’re done, one way or another. I want to get back to our 4e Dark Sun game, as do my players; I only thought we’d be at this for like three or four weeks. After that, there’s lots of other games I want to run; Next isn’t grabbing me like I’d hoped it would after reading the most recent packets.

4 Justin Yanta October 17, 2013 at 3:08 pm

The party still claims the Blushing Mermaid as its home and is using it as the base of operations.
The party this week consisted of:
• Half-Orc Cleric (Lucy)
• Wood Elf Paladin (Woodarrow)
• Tinker Gnome Rogue (Nezzle)
• Half-Orc Rogue (Jackal)
• Half-Orc Fighter (Torrak)
• Stout Halfling Barbarian (Kah-Kaww)

Blushing Mermaid (Everyone):
The party got the list of who was going to be kidnapped and then headed back to the Blushing Mermaid. It was early in the morning when they got there so they had a short rest and then headed out in the day. They started hearing about people being kidnapped but they did nothing about it. When people started showing up dead after being kidnapped they were wanting to do something but did not know what to do. (even though they burned Ravengard I had Ravengard contact them to help him).

A Flaming Fist Private approached Jackal and asked him to meet with Ravengard near the Seatower and the group decided to head there with Jackal. Jackal and the group met with Ravengard. He was very upset with all the kidnappings and that they are becoming murders even after the ransom was paid. He was very upset that one of his friends and a member of the Parliament of Peers had his son kidnapped in the morning. Darsh Nyach was willing to pay the ransom but he wanted his son returned unharmed. He asked Ravengard to find his son but Ravengard felt that his presence or the presence of his men would spook the kidnappers and they might kill Darsh’s son. The group agreed to help if Ravengard would put his support behind Nezzle to become a Duke. Ravengard had seen his own influence wane and that Nezzle was becoming more of a popular choice. He agreed to the terms as long as nothing happened to Omdarsh Nyach.

The party received the letter from Ravengard along with the 800gp and 2pp. They headed off to find the blind man and made sure they were ready for anything. As they travelled they kept hearing people grumbling about the current state of affairs in the city and how the Dukes are not listening to them. The party finally made it to the blind man and dropped 2pp into his cup. He handed a paper to Kah-Kaww and allowed Kah-Kaww to read the paper out loud. Once Kah-Kaww finished the blind man opened the cage next to him and a pigeon flew out circling in the air.

Pigeon Chase (Everyone):
I created a map using my maptiles (that I scanned into my computer) and paint to make a long chase scene. Here is my map:
http://i528.photobucket.com/albums/dd326/jyanta/KidnapChase.jpg

As you see I have a gate which is supposed to be Baldur’s Gate in which the next part of Stage 7 will happen. So I had everyone roll initiatives and we had a chase.

Now everyone at the table loved this because some people went on the roofs and others went though the streets. I had them use different skills (like endurance, agility, acrobatics, spot, intimidate, search, lockpicking, and even persuade) to get through the maze of people and buildings. It made it very interesting and once they made it to the far end (right side) they noticed the bird made it into the house there. 3 of the 6 people made it to the house at the same time as the bird while the others fell behind. The bad news was that Kah-Kaww who had the money was one that fell behind. The 3 people that made it (Woodarrow, Jackal, and Torrak) circled around the house and started to look into windows and listen to what they kidnappers were saying. They were able to spot some of the kidnappers and also Omdarsh tied up in a chair.

They overheard the kidnappers mention they wanted to be paid this time and would wait a little bit before killing the kid (to see if the money would make it). It took 5 more minutes before Kah-Kaww and the other 3 were able to make the building. Kah-Kaww knocked on the door and the lead kidnapper answered. Kah-Kaww told them that he had the money but demanded to see Omdarsh. The kidnapper tried to not show Omdarsh but Kah-Kaww was able to convince him. Kah-Kaww dropped the money and the kidnapper turned back to the others saying to let the kid go. That is when someone in the corner said that was not the deal and demanded that Omdarsh be killed. This kicked in everyone else that was watching and we started fighting.

Kidnappers House (Everyone):
It started with Kah-Kaww grabbing the money bag and running away (taking an opportunity attack that missed). Kah-Kaww used his hand crossbow to shoot back at the kidnapper leader and was able to hurt him bad. The kidnappers jumped and one tried to kill Omdarsh but the 3 that were watching were given a reaction action and they all shot or used reach weapons to stop the kidnapper. This stopped the kidnapper and cleared the area around Omdarsh. Most of the kidnappers went after Kah-Kaww to get the money from him. This lead them right into a trap as the others used their opportunity attacks to take out most of the kidnappers as they ran out of the building. Torrak jumped through the window and ran right into a Flaming Fist Sargent. The Flaming Fist Sargent tried to get by Torrak to kill Omdarsh but Torrak was able to stop him. They fought each other tooth and nail but in the end Torrak was able to defeat the Flaming Fist Sargent and not kill him. The rest of the party cleared up the rest of the kidnappers and saved Omdarsh. They decided to keep the money for themselves and untied Omdarsh. Once everyone was together they started to interrogate the Flaming Fist Sargent. He said he just wanted more money and they would not stop what was happening in the city. They were almost able to get him to tell them who sent him when a crossbow bolt slammed into the Sargent killing him. Everyone except for Lucy rolled over a 20 on a spot check and noticed a sniper 2 houses away that just killed the Sargent. Woodarrow and Jackal were also able to tell that the sniper was dressed up in the Acolyte of Gond clothing.

Chasing down the Acolyte (Everyone):
This started a new chase heading back down the same map toward Baldur’s Gate. Torrak and Kah-Kaww took Omdarsh a different way and escaped with him to make sure he made it back to his dad in one piece. That left Woodarrow, Jackal, Nezzle and Lucy to chase down the sniper. When they made it to Baldur’s Gate they noticed a huge crowd of people trying to break down the gates in order to get to the Duke’s to talk to them. Ravengard and 300 Flaming Fist were guarding the gates while the Acolytes of Gond were on the wall with crossbows aiming at the crowd. The crowd kept surging forward and it looked like things were going to end bad. Jackal headed to talk to Ravengard while Nezzle, Lucy and Woodarrow tried to stop the crossbowmen. Lucy found out that there were no Watch here which was odd since they are supposed to guard the walls and not the Acolytes of Gond. Woodarrow seached for the sniper but could not find him while Nezzle saw Skood talking to some of the crossbowmen telling them something and pointing to the crowd.

Jackal was able to talk to Ravengard and tell them that it was the Acolytes of Gond on the wall and it looked like they wanted to start a bloodbath. He convinced Ravengard to stay their ground and to stop the crossbowmen from killing people. At the same time Skood said something and the Acolytes started shooting into the crowd killing people. This started all the crossbowmen shooting and people running for their lives. The Flaming Fist were able to stop the Acolytes and get control over the situation which saved many lives as only 17 people died vs. 100s. This started riots though out the city and the party took their time sorting through the chaos. They were not able to do much with the riots but they were at least able to stop a big bloodbath. The party is very confused with what is going on. The guild is working with the Flaming Fist as the Watch and Acolytes of Gond are trying to kill everyone. Nezzle did give a few speeches that helped with the riots but overall things look bad in Baldur’s Gate.

5 dan October 17, 2013 at 7:28 pm

This session, we had 2 tables of Next and one of 4e. My table of next had a human rogue, a half-elf druid, a forest gnome barbarian (me), a rock gnome monk, and a human cleric whose player accidentally used wizard details for (he accidentally used the wizard spell list, thought his casting ability was int, and forgot he was supposed to be trained in religious lore).
The party began in the inn, and were basically just milling about, having a restful morning after the ordeals of the past few days (last session). Apparently, we were so engrossed in our resting, that we all failed our listen checks (we ALL rolled terribly), so we didn’t notice the commotion outside until the innkeeper informed us that something seemed wrong, and that we should check it all. After all, we were recognized as heroes by the city.
When we went outside, we saw smoke over the city, originating from all over. The barbarian climbed the inn for a better view, and he could see the cause: the city was in chaos. People everywhere were rioting, and the watch and flaming fists were fighting back. People were looting, and fighting, and while the watch and guard were trying to subdue, they were not holding back by much. The cleric immediately looted a shop, and found a few silver and butter churn. Then we set off, trying to use our authority as Flames to convince the fist soldiers to hold back their blows, going for nonlethal means. It worked, but only briefly. Most people still seemed to be alive when beaten. The monk decided to try to stop the riot by force, throwing himself into the fray, fists flying. He crit, clearing a 25-foot circle, with dozens of people laying unconscious. That circle was ignored by the mob, due to the pike of bodies, but it didn’t seem to stop any more people than were directly affected by it.
The cleric thought of the fear approach, and shouted ‘DRAGON!’ For added effect, the barbarian cast minor illusion to back him up, but the people who noticed it were soon engulfed by those who did not.
The druid and rogue tried to determine how it started, but they got several conflicting theories, none reliable.
Finally, the barbarian sought, and found, Ravenguard in the chaos, clearing a swath of forced peace (unconscious rioters). When asked if he had any ideas to calm the riot, he angrily yelled that that was our job. In hindsight, I should have asked for a battlefield promotion for the authority to do so, but as it was, we moved along with him until the barbarian thought of a plan. Drawing on his shaman/forest gnome background, he had knowledge of how to fight chaotic destruction in nature in the form of forest fires. He knew that cutting off the blaze was the best way to prevent the spread. He suggested that the gates between the city sections be closed to make it easier to quell the riot in the upper and outer cities. However, the lower city would be trapped, adding panic to the mix. Still, they followed through with the plan.
Our DM called out and pointed in character, and the 4e DM he accidentally pointed at jumped right in with a response, leading to a fun and amusing exchange.
The cleric began throwing copper pieces at rioters, ordering them to follow him and his god. 30 joined us, though they did little at first, other than avoid being attacked by guards and the like.
The barbarian saw the panic caused by trapping the rioters. He thought again, and ordered the guards at the gates to open and close them every 5 minutes, allowing controlled dispersal of the rioters, who could be subdued more easily in the now calmed districts. This helped a bit.
Then, the Monk had a breakthrough: alcohol helps everything. Or at least makes people complacent when they have enough (though sometimes requiring enough for them to pass out). He entered a nearby tavern, and requested kegs of ale. The proprietors agreed to sell us the kegs at a discount, as it was in their best interest. We began at one end of the lower city, and worked our way around, the cleric’s followers carrying the kegs. The barbarian cast minor illusion to shout ‘free booze,’ but the rioters would just take some, and return to the riot, so he altered it to stipulate calm, before handing it out.
About 4 hours in, the riot turned into more of a city-wide party, albeit a rowdy one. It took another 4 hours to make the sweep, but it paid off. The riot was stopped. However, the city was pretty trashed.
The final result was 48 dead (3 from the monk, 22 from Ravenguard), and the rest from other accidents throughout the city. 4000 were incarcerated for looting, and 2000 for assault. 15 were missing. There were numerous others badly injured. The majority of the others involved in the partying slept or passed out in the streets, and spent the night there. The street cleaners were displeased at having to deal with the varieties of excrement, but the party (or at least the barbarian) decided to assist in the cleaning efforts. The monk decided to investigate the missing people, but did so alone. He soon found them, but decided that the rest of the party could come find him, despite not having told us where he’d gone. The cleric discovered that much of the success against the riot was attributed to him and his followers in service to his god, so a church to the lifegiver was started in his honor, with a tithe in his name, causing him to receive 10 gp. He also was gifted with a +1 magic dagger from one of the people he saved by making them a follower.

The monk’s search for the missing citizens was a lead-in to a filler combat encounter that had no actual effect on the adventure. Instead, it just gave us something to do for the last half hour, and gave us a bit of combat to offset the tons of roleplay up to this point.

6 Vobekhan October 18, 2013 at 12:17 pm

We seem to have gone a little off track with improvised side quests this week but I’m planning on working with my fellow DM to get both of our tables back in task as we only have 4 sessions remaining.

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